Evaluating Emerging Cleaning Technologies

Engineered water systems, which modify water to create cleaning solutions, have been on the market for some time now. Some of these technologies generate hypochlorous acid (HCLO), which is on List N.

“As with any disinfectant, follow the master label on how to use hypochlorous acid to kill COVID-19,” says Wilcox. “Different manufacturers of machines and tablets have different concentrations and dwell times listed on their labels. Used correctly, hypochlorous acid is economical, effective and less toxic.”

Another advantage of engineered water technologies, according to Wilcox, is the fact that these systems generate the cleaning solution on site, freeing contractors from worry about the supply chain.

“As we know, the supply chain for cleaning and disinfecting products encountered many challenges throughout this pandemic, and will continue to have challenges in the future,” says Wilcox. “Hypochlorous acid generated on site solves that problem.”

UV Light

Germicidal ultraviolet (UV) light has been shown to be effective in killing tuberculosis and other microbes. It’s not new technology. In fact, hospitals have been using UV to sanitize clean rooms for years. What’s new are the marketing claims that UV light is a high-tech infection prevention technology that can be used against COVID-19. However, scientists still need more information to fully determine whether those claims are true.

Meanwhile, the UV equipment being used works on line of sight, which means that it only disinfects what the light hits. It wont see around obstructions and must be manually moved around a room to shine on all surfaces. It also can’t be used with people present.

Dr. Charles Gerba, professor of environmental science at University of Arizona in Tucson, has been studying COVID-19 closely and suggests that many factors in a facility could disrupt the effectiveness of UV light against the virus. “Effectiveness is dependent upon UV light output, types of surfaces — it’s not as effective on rough surfaces — and distance to the surface being treated,” says Gerba.

Instead of using equipment to target surfaces, some experts recommend alternative options. Citing the novel coronavirus’ airborne transmission, Walker advises contractors who are interested in UV light to consider recommending clients retrofit HVAC systems with the technology.

“Using the HVAC to purify air particles would be a better use of your money than investing in a machine for surface disinfection,” says Walker. “It could be used as an add-on to an existing contract.”

In-depth Evaluations

Before spending money on new technology, BSCs should first evaluate their overall program. Even the most amazing product innovations will only be as effective as the person using them. Enhanced training programs, team morale building and constant communication of comprehensive cleaning programs will all be parts of an informed equipment investment. Once personnel and programs have been outlined, BSCs can move on to evaluating products and equipment. Start by checking the claims prior to investing, including validating EPA registration numbers.

A pesticidal device is an instrument or other machine that is used to destroy, repel, trap or mitigate any pests, including bacteria and viruses. All products making pesticidal claims must be registered with the EPA. The agency has a frequently updated list that now contains about 500 products shown to be effective against SARS-CoV-2, including some products that have been specifically tested against it. The goal is to combat the growing number of products illegally marketed as effective against COVID-19.

“Unregistered disinfectants put consumers at risk. Whether these products are being sold to make a quick buck or are being sold out of ignorance, the EPA will not allow the public to be endangered by companies taking advantage of the COVID-19 situation and selling ineffective products,” says EPA Regional Administrator Pete Lopez in a press release. “Disinfectants and other pesticide products that are not properly tested and registered can pose a serious risk to public health. The EPA is working with public and private partners to ensure that pesticide products imported into, and sold in the U.S. are safe and effective.”

The stakes have never been higher for BSCs on the equipment side, both from a legitimacy and adequate supply standpoint. Even with the most competent staff, their ability to successfully slow COVID-19 stretches only as far as the quality of equipment and chemicals provided. Conducting due diligence with consultants, agencies and manufacturers on the front end will far outweigh the risks otherwise.

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